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Individual enterprise can succeed without government “help.”

I have recieved the specimens of straw-plaiting which you were so kind as to inclose & learn with satisfaction the possibility that you may establish the manufacture in some of the states …  the general government no authority to embark in or to encourage any in particular. the state governments can do it; but they generally leave them to individual enterprize, trusting that the sagacity [wisdom] of private interest will generally discover those pursuits which may be entered on to advantage.
Thomas Jefferson to George White, August 18, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders know what government doesn’t do well.
White requested government support for the American manufacture of plaited straw, used for making hats. That straw was currently imported from England. He sent the President a sample produced by his wife and presented a well-thought-out plan for its manufacture.

Jefferson thanked White but declined assistance, explaining:
1. The federal government had no authority to help him.
2. State governments did have that authority.
3. State governments usually left such pursuits to the individual.
4. The individual entrepreneurial spirit was the best guide for such pursuits.

President Jefferson couldn’t help Mr. White, but he can help your audience.
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NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Commerce, Government's proper role Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Keep those critters alive! But if not …

the things from Marseilles are at New York and may soon be expected at Washington. be so good as to have particular care taken of the squirrel & pie which came with the things from Baltimore that I may see them alive at my return. should any accident happen to the squirrel his skin & skeleton must be preserved.
Thomas Jefferson to Etienne Lemaire, August 17, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Little things can give leaders great delight.
Lemaire was Jefferson’s steward or butler at the President’s House in Washington City. Writing from Monticello, the President gave instructions for the care of specimens sent by Meriwether Lewis and arriving soon in the nation’s capital. Lewis had shipped these specimens south in April from the Mandan villages on the northern Dakota plains, where he and William Clark had wintered with the men of the Corps of Discovery. These were the items the Corps had collected in 1804 as they journeyed up the Missouri River from St. Louis to the Mandans.

Jefferson gave instructions on how to protect the “skins & furs” from “the worm-fly” and the rest of the goods from the “rats & mice.” Lemaire was to take “particular care” of the “squirrel & pie,” the prairie dog and magpies captured alive and sent to the President. If the prairie dog did not survive, “his skin & skeleton” must be preserved.

The prairie dog and one of the four magpies survived the journey, and Jefferson saw them upon his return to Washington in early October. He sent them on to Philadelphia to become part of Charles Willson Peale’s natural history museum.

Let Mr. Jefferson share his delight in most things with your audience!
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NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Animals, Lewis & Clark, Natural history (science) Tagged , , , , , , , , |

I love this stuff!

I now return you the inclosed with many thanks for the opportunity of perusing it, which I have done with great satisfaction. I had before observed that Faujas & Cuvier were rather at war. Cuvier is attached to artificial classification. Faujas thinks with Buffon  …  Accept my friendly salutations & assurances of great esteem & respect.
Thomas Jefferson to David Vaughn, August 15, 1805

In March, 2020, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, I interrupted my review of Jefferson’s presidential correspondence, to focus on his writings about the yellow fever from 1793 on. That project is now complete, and I return to 1805.

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Even very busy leaders make time for their pet projects.
Vaughn had forwarded to the President a scientific paper from Europe, on the classification of a large animal, the megalonix, believed to be a ferocious beast. Its bones had been discovered in America. Jefferson loved the large animals which roamed this continent, past and present. He had an ongoing friendly feud with European authorities who thought such animals could not exist here.

That’s not the point of this post. The point is the first sentence, Jefferson declaring he had avidly read and appreciated the scientific paper Vaughn sent. Countless presidential replies thanked people who sent him things to read. He declined to read most, citing the press of official business which left him with no time to peruse whatever they sent. Not this time. Jefferson the scientist loved this type of debate and would gladly make time for a keen personal interest.

The animal in question was later determined to be, not a fierce predator, but a giant sloth. Caspar Wistar, a famous naturalist and Jefferson contemporary, suggested in 1822 that it be named Megalonyx jeffersonii.

Mr. Jefferson has a keen personal interest in inspiring your audience.
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NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Animals, Natural history (science) Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Let us settle this, once and for all.

Mutual confidence in the honor & friendship of each other has made us too inattentive to the settlement of the question respecting the lands claimed by us both adjoining our possessions here. it had better be settled while in our hands, for no others will be disposed to do it in a more friendly or just way … I believe we both agreed to arbitrate it. let us then proceed to name Arbitrators, and be done with it.
Thomas Jefferson to John Harvie, August 15, 1805

In March, 2020, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, I interrupted my review of Jefferson’s presidential correspondence, to focus on his writings about the yellow fever from 1793 on. That project is now complete, and I return to 1805.

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Busy leaders don’t fight with friends.
This John Harvie (1742-1807) was a lifelong neighbor and friend. His father, also named John, was young Thomas Jefferson’s guardian upon the death of his father. There was a third John Harvie, son of the man receiving this letter.
Because they were friends, both Jefferson and Harvie had neglected to settle the contested ownership of land they both claimed. He wanted the two of them to conclude the matter, as none of their heirs would “do it in a more friendly or just way.” Jefferson’s presidential duties left him little time for personal affairs. They had agreed to arbitration. It was time to do that, and get it over with.

This arbitration was not successful. Two years later, this Harvie would die in an accident. Jefferson did settle the matter with the third Harvie, in this manner.

Mr. Jefferson seeks common ground with your audience.
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1 Comment Posted in Miscellaneous Tagged , , , , , , , , |

THIS is in MY wheelhouse!

…[I have] been elected by the city council a trustee for the public schools to be established at Washington & by the trustees to preside at their board … sincerely believing that knolege promotes the happiness of man, I shall ever be disposed to contribute my endeavors towards it’s extension, and in the instance under consideration will willingly undertake the duties proposed to me, so far as others of paramount obligation [i.e. President of the U.S.] will permit my attention to them.
Thomas Jefferson to Robert Brent, August 14, 1805

In March, 2020, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, I interrupted my review of Jefferson’s presidential correspondence, to focus on his writings about the yellow fever from 1793 on. That project is now complete, and I return to 1805.

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Visionary leaders always promote an educated constituency.
The President declined most appointments, but gladly accepted this one, to preside over the Board of Education for public schools in Washington City. Not only was an educated citizenry essential for the protection of the new republic, education promoted happiness in people. By that standard, Jefferson was the happiest of all men!

Mr. Jefferson seeks to promote the education (and happiness!) of your audience!
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NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Education Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

I keep pitching my “green new deal.”

I really wish effect to the hints in my letter to you for so laying off the additions to the city of N.O. as to shield it from Yellow fever. my confidence in the idea is founded in the acknoleged experience that we have never seen the genuine Yellow fever extend itself into the country, nor even to the outskirts or open parts of a close built city. in the plan I propose every square would be surrounded, on every side, by open & pure air, & would in fact be a separate town with fields, or open suburbs around it.
Thomas Jefferson to William C. C. Claiborne, May 3, 1810

In the face of coronavirus, I’m excerpting correspondence about diseases that ravaged the nation in Thomas Jefferson’s time.

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Retired leaders continue to cheerlead from the sidelines.
Claiborne (c. 1773/75 – 1817), a Virginia born lawyer transplanted to Tennessee, served in Congress from 1797 to 1801. In 1803, he was appointed by Jefferson to be governor of the Territory of Orleans, a position he held until 1812.

Jefferson, now finally (and gratefully!) retired from public office, continued to lobby for more green space in New Orlean’s development, to combat the diseases which afflicted densely populated areas. Multiple earlier letters in this series detailed his “checkerboard” plan for urban design.

Claiborne succeeded Andrew Jackson as Tennessee’s Congressman. He was the youngest person ever elected to that body, and most sources indicate he was not yet 25 years of age, as required by the Constitution.

Mr. Jefferson will continue to promote his causes to your audience.
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NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Health Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Any money must come from Pennsylvania, not the U.S.

Dr. Deveze, who is the subject of your letter of Mar. 3. had I believe great merit in the services he rendered in Philadelphia on the first visitation of the Yellow fever in 93. the courage with which he exposed himself to it, when it’s novelty frightened away the physicians & inhabitants of the place, marked a mind of superior benevolence … with respect to Dr. Deveze’s request of some acknolegement for his services … his application can of course be recieved by the government of Pensylvania … I hope Dr. Deveze will see … my personal sentiments & esteem I render him the justice he merits.
Thomas Jefferson to Pierre August Adet, June 29, 1806

In the face of coronavirus, I’m excerpting correspondence about diseases that ravaged the nation in Thomas Jefferson’s time.

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Sometimes, brave leadership goes unrewarded.
Dr. Deveze, a French refugee from Haiti, volunteered to serve in Bush Hill hospital during Philadelphia’s 1793 deadly yellow fever epidemic. His treatment, considerably gentler than other physicians’ (especially that of the city’s famed Dr. Benjamin Rush), resulted in a favorable recovery rate.

Jefferson noted that Deveze was among the first to recognize that yellow fever was not contagious. He also believed the “superior benevolence” of Deveze 13 years earlier merited reward. Adet now sought that reward for Deveze from the national government. The President declined, citing constitutional limitations, and directed Deveze’s case to the state where his services were rendered.

Although he could not authorize compensation from Washington, he asked Adet to convey his “personal sentiments & esteem.”

Read this excerpt from Deveze’s memoir for a detailed and sometimes grisly account of 15 case studies from the 1793 epidemic.

Mr. Jefferson will spare your audience the grisly details. Unless they ask …
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Constitutional issues, Health, Natural history (science) Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Some will always argue with the facts!

altho’ these facts [about the nature of the yellow fever] are now palpable to every unprejudiced observer, yet the disposition in men to schismatize [divide into strongly opposed camps] & dispute, has produced some contradiction to them … among the advantages to be derived from the progress of science, I am happy to observe that chemistry promises a more speedy & effectual mode of disinfecting the air of contagious houses & vessels than the oppressive practice of Quarentine a barbarous continuation of antient ignorance & habit.
Thomas Jefferson to Giovanni Fabbroni, April 30, 1806

In the face of coronavirus, I’m excerpting correspondence about diseases that ravaged the nation in Thomas Jefferson’s time.

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Realistic leaders know facts won’t convince some people.
Fabbroni (1752-1822), was an Italian scientist with specialties in agronomy and chemistry. He and Jefferson had been friends and correspondents for 30 years. Jefferson offered what was known about the yellow fever in America, so Fabbroni could compare it with similar illnesses in Italy. Unfortunately, people had a natural inclination to ignore the facts and dispute those who disagreed.

Still believing the cause of the disease to be foul air, the science-minded Jefferson held that chemistry, an attempt to change the environment, would be a more effective cure than quarantine, an attempt to change human behavior.

Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak to your audience.
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NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Health, Human nature, Natural history (science) Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Uncle Sam must stay in his lane.

… your letter of the 9th. announced of a method of curing Yellow fever  …  in the distribution of the powers of government however, made by our general & state constitutions, no other encoragement for useful discoveries has been confided to the general [national] government but that of securing to their authors the exclusive use of them [a patent] for a term of years. all further reward is within the competence of the state-governments alone … those which have suffered under this affliction cannot fail to remunerate with liberality any real discovery for remedying it in future.
Thomas Jefferson to Antonio Garcia Herreros, August 18, 1805

In the face of coronavirus, I’m excerpting correspondence about diseases that ravaged the nation in Thomas Jefferson’s time.

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders know who can and cannot help.
Herreros solicited the President for federal support for his “cure” for yellow fever. Jefferson acknowledged that any cure would be of great value. He explained that the U.S. Constitution gave the national government no authority to promote it beyond the issuance of a patent. Herreros must look to state governments for support.

The President affirmed liberal compensation should be owing anyone with a “real discovery” for curing the fever. Obviously, Herreros possessed no such cure.

Mr. Jefferson offers a real cure for boring meetings.
Invite him to speak. Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Constitutional issues, Health Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Is it ethical to experiment on a condemned man?

with respect to the experiment whether Yellow fever can be communicated after the vaccine, which you propose should be tried on some malefactor [criminal], no means of trying that are likely to be within my power. during the term I have been in office, not a single conviction in any capital case has taken place under the laws of the general government. the Governors of the several states would have it most in their power to favor such an experiment.
To Edward Rowse, August 4, 1805

In the face of coronavirus, I’m excerpting correspondence about diseases that ravaged the nation in Thomas Jefferson’s time. This post is a repeat of August, 22, 2016.

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Rowse wrote to Jefferson speculating on the connection between four diseases: cowpox, smallpox, plague and yellow fever. The smallpox vaccine had already proved effective against that disease and the cowpox. There was some speculation that it worked against the plague. Rowse wanted to know if it might also protect against yellow fever.

To that end, Rowse suggested an experiment be conducted on someone already condemned to die and asked Jefferson’s help. The President declined, not on moral grounds, but for lack of a subject. During his Presidency, no one had been convicted of a capital offense under federal law. Those convictions occurred under state laws. He suggested governors might be able to help Rowse with his experiment.

“I am pleased to give Patrick Lee my highest recommendation as a speaker.”
Executive Director, Wyoming School Boards Association
Invite Thomas Jefferson to speak. Call 573-657-2739
NOTE: The link to Thomas Jefferson’s letter is subject to change by Founders’ Archive. It was accurate when this post was written. If the link is now wrong, search FoundersArchives.gov or call me. I’ll help you find it.
Leave a comment Posted in Health, Natural history (science) Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |